Spent two hours on a Migrant Farm handing out free children's books (mostly written in Spanish) and trying to understand Spanish as it was spoken today. Had to thank my ex for taking every opportunity to speak Spanish to other Spanish speakers-- I'm actually practiced at trying to understand a full-speed conversation from the few words I can recognize. And the more I listened, the more words I remembered (basic ones like Gracias and La Biblioteca and los libros-- books).
It was hot, dusty, and challenging, and I am TOTALLY EXHAUSTED. I can't imagine what it must be like for the farm workers-- most of whom do not speak any English-- to deal with these conditions-- including the lack of language skills-- every day! We went with a great group of dedicated people who brought free clothes and free food and ice cream for the kids. They offer to help people fill out forms, and they provide domestic violence intervention. The volunteers all speak Spanish, and all they want is to help their fellow people who are new to America to find her many opportunities.
I also realized that I'd been so nervous and scared about doing this because I viewed migrant workers as "those strange beings" who had nothing to do with me or my life. The thing is-- they are just normal people trying to get through their day. The clothes they wear are like ours because they are the clothes we outgrew or stopped liking and donated somewhere. These people we met with took great pride in their appearance, and many looked cleaner, and more slick than I did by a long-shot-- since I was hot, dusty, tired, and I just don't seem to control my hair very well at the best of times.
The teen aged girls had cliques and insider comments to make to each other. The little toddlers just wanted your full attention and as many books as they could hold. The parents and adult workers just wanted a little extra to put aside for hard times, or a special treat for their kids-- and free is a very good price. Just normal people.
And we didn't go to Tumbucktoo to see them, either. We went to the corner of two main streets-- where they meet about a mile from the center of town. It's the outskirts, but definitely not the boonies. There were still fences with lawns and shrubs on both sides of the street. And then we turned in to a gravel drive. There was a guard who had to approve our entry. He did this by glaring at us as we drove past, and then waving an arm at the parking area where we were supposed to set up our stuff.
So I'm glad I went. And I want to go again. But I also feel even more strongly about taking those Conversational Spanish classes as soon as I graduate. I have a lot to learn about my fellow wo/man. I think maybe we all do.